A few years back, I had a nasty health scare. While things are fine now, there was a great uncertainty when I heard the word from my doctor… over the phone. I was alone and scared on the Big Island, without family and unwilling to talk about my situation as I awaited the start of KFVE's coverage of the "Merrie Monarch Festival", and I was in stunned disbelief. I never got sick, never missed work, never had health issue; I was unbeatable and undefeated. Upon learning of my possible fate, I needed to do something, go somewhere to feel better, to get a sign that maybe, just maybe, things would be OK. I was in a daze.
I went to the Pana'ewa Rainforest Zoo, I went to see Namaste, the white tiger. I always go there when in Hilo. I love tigers. Independent, graceful, and truly the underrated king of the jungle, as a tiger would most surely win a battle over a lion. Check out the research. I like the tiger's underdog status, its fight to survive extinction, and I love the colors. As a kid, I wanted to go to college at Princeton University, mostly because they are known as the Tigers. Anyway, I was in a real funk and was pretty much alone in the expansive park when I got to Namaste's tiger enclosure. I stood up top while Namaste basked in the sun at the bottom, about 75-yards away. I sighed, feeling even more alone and frightened, when suddenly, as if on cue, Namaste rose up and slowly made his way up the hill. He stopped right in front of me, quietly gazing at me and somehow peacefully assuring me that everything would be OK, just have faith. Well, at least that's how I saw it from my newfound ‘aumakua.
It is now 33-months later, and I am fine. But, alas, Namaste, who had an injured leg and a hip that degenerated over the years, was sadly, but mercifully, put to sleep recently at the age of 15, having outlived his siblings. Namaste is not gone. I have him deep in my soul, along with a stuffed animal replica in my office, and he will always be with me, just as he was when I most needed him that quiet, spring day, when I felt so helpless, vulnerable, and defeated. We all need a Namaste by our side, human or otherwise. Aloha, my friend. Think about